Metatalktail Hour: I've Got a Secret March 4, 2017 5:27 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday Evening, MetaFilter! This week's Metatalktail conversation starter is, what's something we don't know about you and wouldn't guess? Unusual skills? Strange hobbies? Secret identities?

Remember, they're conversation starters, not conversation limiters, so you can talk about any sociable/personal/sharing thing on your mind -- we're here to kibbitz! Except politics, the bouncers hate politics.

If you have ideas for Metatalktail conversation starters for future weeks, memail or e-mail me, I'm going to start a list. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 5:27 PM (171 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

This week's convo starter is courtesy of QuietGal. Sorry for being a bit late with it; I usually post when my kids go to bed but Micro McGee has a stomach flu so I'm modding while watching all our Disney movies in alphabetical order. We have seen Aladdin, Beauty & the Beast, Brave, and are now on Cars.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:28 PM on March 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

This week's convo starter is courtesy of QuietGal. Sorry for being a bit late with it; I usually post when my kids go to bed but Micro McGee has a stomach flu so I'm modding while watching all our Disney movies in alphabetical order. We have seen Aladdin, Beauty & the Beast, Brave, and are now on Cars.

Poor choice, you will take forever to get to Wall-E.
posted by chainsofreedom at 5:32 PM on March 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

Unusual skill: I have double-jointed thumbs and so back when I was a baby baptist preteen, I used to greet everyone at the sunday morning service ("Go on and greet your neighbors in fellowship!") with my thumbs bent deep into my palms like they were stuck that way. All the blue-haired ladies would briefly recoil, touch my arm instead, and whisper I'll pray for you.
posted by mochapickle at 5:50 PM on March 4, 2017 [17 favorites]

So er, not a skill- but I went to sword fighting class for the very first time in my life today. I learned that I will be excellent at splitting your skull or slicing you from the left or right, but absolutely terrible at blocking. So, when the revolution comes I will get in a few glorious licks and then die quickly?? Yay, me? Eh, it's a start......
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 6:06 PM on March 4, 2017 [6 favorites]

My favourite game with babies is "Clark Kent" [remove glasses] "Superman!" [glasses on] "Clark Kent" [remove glasses] "Superman!", etc. My favourite game with adults is to brazenly flaunt my one (1!) handsome-cheekboned angle whenever I take my glasses off to clean them.

To their credit, neither babies nor adults are fooled.
posted by comealongpole at 6:40 PM on March 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

I feel like I picked a bad topic because I can't think of a secret skill or hobby! I'm really good at flatpack furniture, and I'm excellent at getting gassy babies to fart.

In high school I had a mandatory tap dance rotation in gym class, in 3" tap heels, and that is how I learned to walk in heels. After tapping in them, walking was not an issue. There, that's a good weird personal fact!

(And yes, I realize the weirder part of that sentence is probably "mandatory tap dance rotation in gym class" -- and, yes, at public school.)

No feast this week because of my sick buddy. :(
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:55 PM on March 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

It doesn't come up much, but I have a deep and abiding love for horse racing and am a decent handicapper. People are always surprised when they find out, I guess because I look so thoroughly like what I am, which is a pretty mainstream professional middle class lady, but of course, they usually don't know about my youth spent trackside in Kentucky with my favorite dying immigrant uncle winning on $2 bets.
posted by stellaluna at 7:04 PM on March 4, 2017 [10 favorites]

At my public high school (early 1980s) we did not learn to tap dance-- but we had a "circus stunts" rotation where we learned to ride unicycles, spin on ropes, walk on giant balls, and I think juggling might have been in there, too. Alas, I don't remember how to perform any of those skills now. However, my college boyfriend was a clown in our college circus fraternity (yes, that was a thing) and he could eat flames. Quite the hit at parties!
posted by bookmammal at 7:07 PM on March 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

I make balloon animals sometimes.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:24 PM on March 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

I was quite a fine soprano before my voice changed, and was accepted in to the American Boychoir School when I was 11 years old. I decided not to go, but it's always been one of those big "What If?" moments in my life*.

*In more ways than one, given the lawsuits and allegations of sexual abuse that almost destroyed the school a decade later.
posted by firechicago at 7:29 PM on March 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

During my senior year in high school I was a First Lieutenant in the marching band. I had no idea what that meant then and I still don't.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:32 PM on March 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'm basically pretty boring and predictable. But I did take pennywhistle lessons for a while, and if I'm bored enough, I can probably produce a reel or a jig. Or a slipjig. Or a polka. There are actually lots of different kinds of Irish traditional music that one can play on a pennywhistle.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:34 PM on March 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

I can ride a unicycle and juggle, though not at the same time. I taught myself both when I was about sixteen, though I can't do them as well as I once could.

Once, while helping a friend out with a prank, I crashed a Gladys Knight concert along with a very bad Michael Jackson impersonator and a few other people. The whole place applauded us, thinking it was really Michael Jackson sitting in the balcony. We made the news and the front page of the Boston Herald, though at the time the identities of the pranksters was unknown.

When I was in 10th grade I was at a vocational school for Data Processing and one day I "hacked" the teacher's account (she left herself logged in) and started messing around and got caught. I spent the day in the principal's office and they claimed they had called the police to come get me because hacking was a crime. I spent the day on a chair in that office, waiting to be brought to the Dover, MA hacker tank but they Police never showed up because the butthead principal was only scaring me.

My first sexual experience (with another person) was in the basement of a Burger King.

I know what you're thinking and the answer is: yes, I've always been one of the cool kids.
posted by bondcliff at 7:35 PM on March 4, 2017 [15 favorites]

I have a single superpower, which is that if there is any part of my body that is comfortable I can focus on that area and fill my mind with that feeling. The most frequent application of this talent is when I'm cold, but it also works if I'm too hot or stuffed into an uncomfortable position, like sitting on a plane during a long flight. I can just tune into the foot that is warm or getting the tiny breeze or enjoying plenty of room under the seat or whatever and make that feeling spread. It's weird but very useful.
posted by carmicha at 7:42 PM on March 4, 2017 [18 favorites]

My secret power is appliance repair. I have replaced the control panel in the ovens, the element in the dishwasher, the drain pump, bearings and spider in the washing machine and the rollers in the dryer.

I would also like to suggest to others: avoid LG appliances.
posted by hilaryjade at 7:43 PM on March 4, 2017 [8 favorites]

Oh, and I downloaded x-code and have decided that over the summer, I'm going to make an iPhone app. I have no idea what kind of iPhone app, but it seems like a good summer project. Wish me luck. Hopefully, by this time next year my secret skill will be making iPhone apps.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:47 PM on March 4, 2017

I'm a Brady Bunch trivia expert. I've won prizes on the radio ( in the pre-Google era) due to this special talent.
posted by bookmammal at 7:49 PM on March 4, 2017 [5 favorites]

It's not exciting, but I'm good at untangling knots. I find it very soothing. I especially like rescuing yarn or a necklace tht was about to get tossed after someone else has given up. Not in a "I'm better than you way" but because it means it'll probably be a little tricky at least. Some days I wish it something one could do professionally.
posted by ghost phoneme at 8:10 PM on March 4, 2017 [9 favorites]

My weird talent is finding half-remembered old Sesame Street clips on YouTube, given only one or two vague keywords.

I once took an OkCupid person on a first date exploring the grounds of the mostly-abandoned psychiatric hospital near my home at the time. My friend gave me a long meaningful loook and told me she'd pray for me before I went on the date, but he obviously turned out not to be an axe murderer.
posted by ActionPopulated at 8:13 PM on March 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

Before I had them removed, I only had 3 wisdom teeth, not 4. This fact did not prevent me from coming out from anesthesia prior to the procedure being completed however.
posted by radwolf76 at 8:27 PM on March 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

My secret power is reading recipes and knowing how they'll turn out, more or less. Can't think I would make a very good comic book superhero, but it has saved countless disappointments in the kitchen.
Skimping on the cheese - ZAP!
Too heavy on the herbs - BAM!
A measly 1/4 tsp of chopped garlic - POW!
posted by Quietgal at 8:29 PM on March 4, 2017 [8 favorites]

Hey, ghost phenome, there's a Ravelry group for dedicated untanglers, people will mail you their terrible yarn for you to untangle!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:35 PM on March 4, 2017 [27 favorites]

Oh! No one in my family will play Mad Gab with me. I think my BA in linguistics contributed more to my complete domination the one and only time we played rather than it being an innate talent.

So I can untie knots and piss off mad gab players. Especially the English majors.

I am deeply envious of quietgal's way more useful talent.
posted by ghost phoneme at 8:36 PM on March 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I like dogs.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:39 PM on March 4, 2017 [21 favorites]

I'm good at untangling knots. I find it very soothing. I especially like rescuing yarn or a necklace tht was about to get tossed.

Me too! And I'm tempted by that Ravellry group you linked, Eyebrows!
posted by carmicha at 9:42 PM on March 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I built a gaming PC last year. And I'm getting more and more into it. I had purchased a combo bluray/dvd player last year but when I was assembling the PC, I wasn't able to get it working. I should have returned it right then and there but I got lazy and it sat in a corner and so today, I decided to throw it back into my PC and use some different cables and run some new diagnostics and update the drivers. Ta-da! I got it working. I should have done this many months ago but, I now have it working, so I'm a happy camper.

I'm looking down the road and thinking about attempting liquid cooling. Watching various YouTube videos to learn how. I like my PC. I like gaming.
posted by Fizz at 9:49 PM on March 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I am a really good liaison between tech and/or geeky/nerdy people and non-tech and/or non-geeky-nerdy people. It makes me completely boring in reality, because I have a hard time fully engaging in either straight or non-geek worlds, but I'm the person my non-tech co-workers come to about computer issues or disputes with the IT department, and I'm the non-IT person my IT department can vent at about people doing stupid shit with their computer systems, and I'm the person my techy/nerdy/IT friends come to with issues about human relations. I'm a therapist who didn't need an explanation from a client who was into War Hammer. Theodore Zeldin seems to think I'm the future, and I hold onto that hope, but I read that book many years ago and I'm not sure it's really coming true.
posted by lazuli at 10:10 PM on March 4, 2017 [7 favorites]

I called the pediatric nurse line tonight and I had to wait forever for a nurse, who apologized profusely for the unusually long wait, and then proceeded to take FORTY MINUTES to answer my simple question of, if my kid is vomiting and has NO fever, is it exactly the same course of treatment as when he's vomiting and has a fever? She was like explaining the history of pedialyte to me and going off on perorations about ancillary symptoms and explaining how to take a temperature and I was like I HAVE THREE KIDS AND ONE IS SICK AND WE'VE BEEN ON THE PHONE FORTY MINUTES JESUS CHRIST WOMAN and I assume she is single-handedly responsible for the long call queue.

Usually it is a great service and it takes ten minutes to get all my questions answered but this lady just wanted to TALK.

I think tomorrow I'm going to go to the restaurant supply store and buy a big 5# sack of croutons to snack on, because I'm a grown-ass adult who can snack on croutons if she wants. And I will not share them with my children. They can buy their own croutons when they're adults. Go eat a carrot.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 10:13 PM on March 4, 2017 [24 favorites]

Don't you have Garrett's Popcorn in your neck of the woods, EM?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:16 PM on March 4, 2017

Sadly, no, I'm downstate. That's a "visiting my parents" treat!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 10:17 PM on March 4, 2017

My son was in Malaysia a couple of years ago and texted a picture from a party he was at: a bag of Garrett's. They have two in peninsular Malaysia and they can't put one in Peoria? Not impressed.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:22 PM on March 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

I have a confession:

All of my posts are self posts.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:44 PM on March 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

I owned an Apple eMate 300.
posted by zachlipton at 11:16 PM on March 4, 2017

In the glory days before the state cracked down on teacher continuing ed I actually got a pay raise for taking Circus Arts I and II (I was the finale of the "final," an actual circus in an elementary school gym, since I got pretty good at passing clubs back and forth with the instructor), spending a week kayaking and learning about bears in SE Alaska and going into Denali with Alaska's beloved self-taught flower expert for three different classes among other exploits.

Those were the days. Sigh. As a result, as an orchestra teacher I can now identify basically any Alaskan wildflower (it'a pretty limited palette, and this skill is primarily useful when I need to give somebody else a dignified break to catch their breath on a hike: oh, let's pull over and look at that bed of moss campion!), tell you almost anything you'd need to know as a casual bear, wolf or glacier enthusiast, and juggle passably (but not even half as well as the woman in last month's cross-country ski race, who I was just barely faster than and who did the whole thing sans poles whilst juggling clubs).
posted by charmedimsure at 11:17 PM on March 4, 2017 [5 favorites]

I can wiggle my ears independently of each other! Weirdly, one goes more up and down and the other goes front to back.
posted by MadamM at 11:19 PM on March 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

My kids aren't currently sick, but my secret talent is apparently catching that first round of kiddie puke with my hands. I am also super calm in first aid situations until the adrenaline kicks in and I have to announce that I'm about to faint so somebody better take my place toot sweet.

We are also awaiting the arrival of a new car for me. I used public transport exclusively here for 15 years, got my Italian license almost 4 years ago but couldn't drive hub's car for a year due to horsepower limitations on newly licensed drivers. Then I discovered that I hate driving his car because it's larger than anything I used to drive, has blind spots that drive me batty and knowing how particular he is about his car gives me anxiety.

I've never had a brand new car. I'm combo super excited, impatient, and nervous and keep doing driving quizzes on my phone app.
posted by romakimmy at 11:45 PM on March 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

Most people don't know that I dropped out of high school about 15 years ago. I had shitty, arrogant ideas about how I was "above" everything they wanted to teach me, so I would skip class and teach myself stuff that I cared about. Not surprisingly, it didn't go well, and I dropped out with a 0.6 GPA. But during that time I taught myself some Koine Greek, and Cyrillic is similar enough to Greek that I picked that up, too. The Greek language never stuck (self-teaching a language is hard), but I can still read Greek and Russian (and Mongolian, Serbian, and other languages that use Cyrillic) phonetically.

For more than a decade those skills were just these weird relics of my shitty high school experience, but now I work in a library, and I'm the only one who pages stuff in those languages, because I'm the only one in the office who can verify the titles. So they've turned out to be useful skills, and it's all because of this weird past life where I was a high school dropout. Go figure.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:44 AM on March 5, 2017 [15 favorites]

I have an unusually heightened sense of smell (and taste, I think, though it's harder to do direct comparisons). I can tell when certain people at work have been in the bathroom stall before me based on their perfume, and smells tend to hit me 30-60 seconds before they hit the people I'm with. When I briefly worked with my sister I'd be like "something's on fire outside" while we were driving and then half a minute later she'd be like "oh yeah!". Strong olfactory memory too.

I haven't found any practical applications for this so far, and it's more of a curse than a blessing in that a lot of the notable smells are bad smells. I'm very good at telling whether food is spoiled or not (saves a lot on AskMe questions), but that hasn't stopped me dumping rancid custard onto perfectly good pudding because I didn't bother sniffing it first. I think I'd have ended up plugging my nose or dying from the horror if I'd been a medieval city-dweller instead of a person born in an age that values showering.

I also sang women's barbershop for a few years in my early 20s and now I can harmonise with a lot of things pretty easily. If there's an interesting harmony line in a song I'm singing to I will gravitate towards it, or add my own if there isn't one. Whenever I'm playing World of Warcraft and my dude interrupts me to ask something I tend to start humming in harmony with the background music before I answer him.

(The biggest secret of all is why I quit barbershop. The truth: old. lady. drama. I have never seen a group so desperately hopping around so many missing stairs. A shame, 'cause the music was great and I haven't found a decent singing group since.)
posted by terretu at 2:42 AM on March 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

I can make books appear out of thin air.

I can bake and roast and fry and ferment lots of things.

I'm good with people on the spectrum and with Down syndrome and have spent my life among them.

I'm a very good ice skater.

That's about it. For that you have to endure a lot of foolishness.
posted by Stanczyk at 3:19 AM on March 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

*trans gal voice* Nope, nothing to report, ha ha.

Well, here's a non-gender-related story about a time I had a secret identity of sorts. CW: high school bureaucracy.

When I was in 10th grade, they messed up my enrollment and put me in 11th grade English. That was a weird mistake on their part, because English wasn't an elective. You had to take it all four years, lock step, and it was how they tracked students (instead of homeroom, I gather). Your English class => your grade level. Even if I filled in the wrong code or something, it shouldn't have been possible.

I went to get it changed between hours, on the first day, but the registrar lady told me they didn't do drops/adds in the first week. I tried to explain this was obviously, unquestionably an error, and probably their fault, not like I had buyer's remorse about French 1. She told me to come back next week and she was pretty curt about it As it turned out, I liked the teacher and got good feedback on something we all had to write the second day in class.

So I decided to stay in the class and not tell anyone. (I did have to tell my friend's older brother who was seated next to me, being like, "What the hell are you doing here???" He was enough of a secret rebel that he didn't rat me out. Thanks, Louie Kim!)

The first semester went by and I got an A and I felt pretty good about that. At that point, though, I had to get a permission slip signed to continue on the honors/AP track for next school year. I had to write down specifically what class I was planning on enrolling in next year. I decided there was no way I could really get out of 10th grade English ~in the grand scheme of things~, so I wrote that down. The teacher, going through the pile of permission slips, somehow noticed I'd written "10th" instead of "12th" like everyone else, and he for some reason decided to check my record or whatever... That's how I finally got found out & shit hit the fan.

I got called to the principal's conference room to get talked at. The principal was really mad and asked me accusingly if I thought I was some kind of "maverick" to whom the rules didn't apply, and I would have laughed if I wasn't crying so much. Though to this day the word "maverick" makes me laugh. I think "embittered mouse" is a better description. When he found out I hadn't even told my parents about this, he said super triumphantly that he was going to call my mom. I was done crying by that point and I told him he might be surprised because my mom wasn't a typical Johnson County housewife. (She thought that was the most hilarious part; maybe I got my contempt for authority from her.) The principal tagged out and the teacher came in and said he felt tricked and betrayed. I said I didn't mean it as a trick; I liked the class and wanted to stay in it is all.

The final decision was to let me do what I was going to do anyway: finish out the year in 11th grade English, then do 10th as a junior, then sync back up in 12th as a senior. The second semester I got a B, which, after a semester of corpse-cold silence and from that teacher felt like the impact a carefully aimed bullet in my back, just missing vital organs.

It was actually all kind of weird and awful. The students and teachers looked at me weird and I didn't handle it well. I don't like people, or attention. My 12th grade teacher said I'd stirred up a big discussion in the English department because there was a debate about whether kids could be "advanced" in English, like they are in Math, and the status quo consensus was Firmly No and That's Why We Do Things The Way We Do Them, and I was used as a counter example. I think I was a little advanced at the time? But that was more about my older sister teaching me the stuff she was learning when we were growing up, and like, hurting me if I got things wrong.

A weird glitch was that they restructured the subject matter of the English classes while I was doing this, so I wound up taking English Lit twice, but never American Lit.
posted by fleacircus at 4:39 AM on March 5, 2017 [26 favorites]

I can taste whether or not potatoes have been reheated (unless they are fries which have been deep-fried to within an inch of their life, in which case yum). I can't really explain the taste difference, and my SO can't taste it so we call it my superpower.
posted by rawrberry at 4:58 AM on March 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

fleacircus--I used to teach in the public school system and administrators like those in your story are one of the reasons I left. Good Lord. God forbid a kid actually wants to attend a class--if it doesn't involve that kid putting a round peg into a prescribed round hole, forget it.
(Sorry--current news events which I will not name, because I know the bouncers are awake, have made me a bit salty.)
posted by bookmammal at 5:23 AM on March 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

I'm a researcher and lecturer at a university. As such, here I am, playing the drums with a band called ToraBora. Tuksamile. Golden Georgia. Also here with a different band, but this one is ancient, from 2001. The other videos are from last year.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 5:29 AM on March 5, 2017

In college I once auditioned for an African drum ensemble by accident. I got in and spent the next two years playing in it. I was never very good though.
posted by colfax at 5:43 AM on March 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

rawrberry - I have that same talent! Once the potatoes have cooled the first time, they're never the same again. The texture sort of crystallizes like old honey. I used to think it was the microwave's fault, but now I reheat stuff on the stovetop and it's the same.
posted by moonmilk at 5:50 AM on March 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also, I have liminal dreams all the time. Literally almost every other night. It has one great benefit: I haven't had a nightmare for decades. Because whenever I see a nightmare starting, I can force myself to wake up. It's pretty cool and handy.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 5:53 AM on March 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

colfax: I must know--what was the "accident" part???? How does this happen????
Were you planning on auditioning for a play and inexplicably found yourself in the African drumming room instead?
posted by bookmammal at 5:55 AM on March 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

At my public high school (early 1980s) we did not learn to tap dance-- but we had a "circus stunts" rotation where we learned to ride unicycles, spin on ropes, walk on giant balls, and I think juggling might have been in there, too.

We did this in 7th grade gym for a quarter. We did the unicycles and juggling, but no walking on giant balls. The next quarter was square dancing, which was not nearly as much fun.

And there was an aerobics stint, too, because it was the 1980s.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:05 AM on March 5, 2017

Yep--aerobics was also a 1980s gym rotation. I remember having to make up an aerobics routine to Billy Joel's "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me" as part of my grade. I can actually still recall some of it!
posted by bookmammal at 6:15 AM on March 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I know a (comparative) lot about the life cycles and history of coffee and bananas, considering I am not a plantologist.

I have an extremely good memory for sound - if someone said it once, I will remember it word-for-word. This also works for music, which can be a bother, because I can memorize a song really well off of only one listen, and then when I hear the song again I am convinced that this is a song I have known for years and years, getting more and more frustrated when no one else seems to know the song because it only came out last week.

My farts rival those of a big burly lumberjack.
posted by chainsofreedom at 6:28 AM on March 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I too can read a recipe and know how it will taste, and can substitute appropriate ingredients when necessary. Better than that, though: show me a pantry and fridge full of stuff and I can make a meal on the fly. I can also do that with just a list of ingredients. It's pretty useful.

I also have a super smeller. It's really not a gift, though.

I wanted to be a jockey before I hit puberty and rocketed up to 5'4". Dreams. Dashed.
posted by cooker girl at 7:03 AM on March 5, 2017

Yep--aerobics was also a 1980s gym rotation. I remember having to make up an aerobics routine to Billy Joel's "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me" as part of my grade. I can actually still recall some of it!

In fourth grade, I helped organize the kids on my block to put on a lip-synch and break-dancing show for our block party. I performed the Pointer Sisters' "Neutron Dance" and Billy Joel's "Keeping the Faith." We all performed "We Are the World" at the end, and passed around a hat for donations to help Ethiopia.

We somehow also ended up performing in front of our entire elementary school, but the break-dancing was replaced by The Superbowl Shuffle, because it was suburban Chicago and the Bears had just won the Superbowl. One of the little kids wore a box with "72" on it to be Refrigerator Perry. I wanted to swap out "Neutron Dance" for "I'm So Excited," but the principal vetoed it, and I never got why until I got old enough to understand sex. (Similarly, I never understood why my friends' parents were up in arms about Madonna until much later.) I wore an 80s-riffic outfit of turquoise and raspberry, and my ballet shoes. I still remember my snotty classmates later saying, within my hearing, that *they* never would have worn ballet shoes to perform a lip-synch and dance version of "Neutron Dance" in front of the whole school.
posted by lazuli at 7:45 AM on March 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Eyebrows and QuietGal, this topic is awesome! I'm so enjoying reading everyone's stories, even more than I usually do. I'm starting to get all excited for the Saturday night MeTa thread. Thank you!
posted by lazuli at 7:46 AM on March 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I know a (comparative) lot about the life cycles and history of coffee and bananas, considering I am not a plantologist.

It's beavers for me. One of the major triumphs of my life took place because I happened to wander through the exhibits area of a water management conference being held at a hotel in upstate New York. There was a display about beavers, but no one was staffing it. Someone else asked her companion a question about beavers, but he didn't know the answer. I volunteered it and pretty soon I was answering a lot of questions about beavers to a larger group of people. It was exhilarating!

And then, to my utter embarrassment, it turned out that one of the people in the group was the booth operator, who had returned from wherever. I became instantly mortified, but he reassured me that I'd been doing a great job. We talked about beavers for a long time. Nind amikwaadizi!

Translation from Ojibwe: Live like a beaver!
posted by carmicha at 7:54 AM on March 5, 2017 [14 favorites]

In high school, I bought a "secret admirer" flower for my brother on Valentine's Day. I told him I knew who did it, but I never told him who it was. He used to ask me about it occasionally.
posted by aniola at 7:58 AM on March 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

In college, I had a friend over and not much food in the house, so I served her peanut butter and red rose petals. She ate the whole dozen, minus whatever I had already nibbled on.
posted by aniola at 8:12 AM on March 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

I was stalked by a bear when I was about 5 or so and lost in the woods in northern Michigan. For about a decade I was sure that I had imagined seeing the bear following me, even though the memories of first spotting it in a swampy area near the road and later of KNOWING it was following me were so vivid. It wasn't until I was 16 that my mom confirmed yeah, there really had been a bear, and it had followed me for a loooong way before my dad caught up with me in the family van.

(The van, I distinctly recall thinking it was the bear growling, until the big orange Ford crested the hill and I got this wash of relief that I was safe. The only reason my dad was able to find me was that I unfailingly turned right at every single intersection. To this day, when playing a maze-based video game or walking through a corn maze or what have you, I stick by the same rule: when in doubt, turn right.)
posted by caution live frogs at 8:34 AM on March 5, 2017 [10 favorites]

On the circus arts theme, I took a sideshow banner painting class at Coney Island Sideshow School years ago, while people were learning to eat glass and breathe fire in the room next door. It was a chilly November so we painting students would sometimes take a break to warm up at the fireballs.

My first banner was of my dog, whose sideshow gimmick was to eat everything. That five foot wide painting still hangs in my apartment, which might be why my current dog is so insecure. I should make a banner for him, when I figure out what his superpower is. I also made a diptych of banners for an imaginary flea circus which, amateurish though they were, somehow got adopted by a real flea circus! They're visible in the background of some of the older videos there.

Although my training is probably obsolete now, I still put my Bachelor of Sideshow "degree" on my resume, which may have cost me a few opportunities here and there.
posted by moonmilk at 8:52 AM on March 5, 2017 [14 favorites]

Today I learned that "Sideshow Banner Painting" is a niche specialty that I had no idea even existed--much less that there are actual classes for it!
It's such a big world out there...
I love this thread!
posted by bookmammal at 9:04 AM on March 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Yesterday, I had a conversation with someone and it ended in him saying, "Wow, I had no idea you were so interested in the process behind establishing ASTM standards!" So, uh, yeah. I could barely keep myself from preaching the gospel of shipping containers and pallets at him. Also, I want a double crush emasculator for my birthday.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:16 AM on March 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

The story behind my accidental audition goes like this:

It was my freshman year, first semester. The same teacher ran the African drum ensemble as the African drumming class, and I thought that I'd signed up for the latter. It turned out there was a single-digit difference in the course registration number and I messed it up. Anyway, when I showed up for the first day, the teacher didn't really give an introduction or anything. He just arrived 10 minutes late, took the roll call, and said, "Let's play!"

Then he split everyone into parts, handed me a gourd, and said, "Do this." So I did. We played a couple of songs like that.

Then he moved everyone around and gave them new parts. He put me on a drum and said, "Okay, now do this." So I did.

It was clear that most of the people already knew what they were doing (much more so than I did), but I was a little shy and a little intimidated, so I didn't ask any questions and just played anything he told me. At the end of the hour, he pulled me over and said, "So, you can stay if you want."

And I said, still feeling somewhat at a loss, "Okay!"

I didn't really understand what had happened until I walked out of the classroom and saw an acquaintance waiting outside. She saw me at once and said, "COLFAX! How did you get into the African Drum Ensemble? I thought freshmen weren't allowed in it, so I signed up for the class instead!" She spent much of the next year staring daggers at me because I'd accidentally gotten into the ensemble that she so desperately wanted to be in.
posted by colfax at 9:17 AM on March 5, 2017 [14 favorites]

I own several stuffed animals. I enjoy caviar and fine cheeses.
posted by jonmc at 10:37 AM on March 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

What's something we don't know about you and wouldn't guess?

After sixteen years of MetaFilter? Not much. If I wasn't a librarian and general internet person I think my next choice of a career would be cleaning out people's barns and basements. Jessamyn's Care B&B. I speak adequate Romanian. One of my grandfathers is from Uzbekistan. I have almost no toenails.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 10:44 AM on March 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

Secrets! I've been working on a family history project. A couple years ago we turned up a few references (in family materials from the early 20th c) to "adopted baby" -- but nobody remembers hearing anything about any adopted baby. Mysterious and maybe scandalous or even ominous; why the secrecy? why doesn't anybody remember the baby? Did the baby survive? (In that family, two babies had already died, just given the high infant mortality rate of the times; but those babies are memorialized in the family cemetery plot.)

Well, last week we had a breakthrough. We found the adoption papers, along with the birth-mom's name, the baby's birth name, and the solution to the mystery of what happened to the baby... There's a letter with the papers, about a month after the adoption, saying basically "there's this other couple in New Jersey, they come highly recommended, and they're very excited"... So adopted baby went to live with another family after all, phew. Some nosy snooping this weekend yielded what I think is adopted baby's wedding announcement in a newspaper, yay!
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:12 AM on March 5, 2017 [10 favorites]

I am really, really, shockingly good at taking out drywall screws. Even among people who put in and remove screws all the time for work, I am really good at it.
This is handy, given the amount of time I spend assembling and disassembling scenery, but also occasionally ends up causing Resentful Feels if I insist on someone letting me try to get out a particularly stubborn screw before they take dramatic measures, and then I easily remove one they had been struggling with. I am a Lady Person, and not supposed to be better than a Dude Person at that!
Fortunately, most of the time, the reaction is more along the lines of "Oh, you have the magic touch! Come do these three as well!"
posted by Adridne at 11:16 AM on March 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'm really good at sizing up things by eye. Filling up boxes, packing trucks, putting stuff in closets, that sort of thing. Back in high school I worked as a bagger in a grocery store, more than once I was told by a customer that I was the best they'd ever seen. Once I mailed a package to my parents and nobody could get all the stuff back in the box.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 11:16 AM on March 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

I absolutely love building Ikea furniture. I find it really soothing, like a big-scale jigsaw that afterwards you can put your clothes in or your teapot on. I have an ongoing thought-exercise about what foodstuff I wouldn't eat as long as it had Nutella on it but I haven't found one yet. I'm ridiculously short-sighted but with my lenses out I have amazing closeup vision which is called my "supervision" as in "I must have a tiny splinter and I can't see it can you use your supervision?" If you are within an inch of my eyes I can see every tiny colour in your eye and every eyelash like through a magnifying glass whereas I will just be a freaky blur to you. I can recognise actors in things that I have seen in maybe one other thing twenty years ago, same with voices, and I have a photographic memory for song lyrics. I'm really lazy and love gin but I think that's probably not a secret.
posted by billiebee at 11:25 AM on March 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

Oh, I am really good at making pie crust. Years ago, I had a slight emotional breakdown which I dealt with by baking a pie every day. I probably should have seen a therapist, but I did get a semi-valuable skill out of it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:46 AM on March 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

I feel like I'm basically a zero-delay firehose about all my hobbies and interests and day-long whims and so on, so the fact that I have a bunch of weird hobbies, and the actual output of those, is pretty unsecret.

But I will admit something that's maybe not surprising but doesn't get foregrounded much when I'm making jokey comments here and on twitter: I tend to do a lot of frantic research to set up and vet and massage some of those jokes. The instinctive goofy frivolity of quick one-liners sometimes comes at the cost of exactly the sort of effort and discipline they're meant not to seem to need. For every bit of actual reckless free-association I do there's probably four or five jokes or goofy pitches or deep cut references that I just throw right in the bin after chewing on 'em for a bit because I couldn't find the angle I thought might be there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:47 AM on March 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

I think I am a cat whisperer. Many times I know what a cat is thinking before they take action on their thought. Cats are attracted to me!
posted by waviolet at 12:18 PM on March 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's not remotely a secret, but something you'd never guess by my job these days: I grew up in a 8'x16' cabin in the woods near Algonquin Park without electricity, a telephone or running water.

(On the off chance that someone knows the area: not the commune. My mother refused to move there after seeing the division of labour and came away with the maxim, "I won't believe in your utopia until I see who does the cooking and cleaning.")

Even now, well over two decades after moving to a city, I'm occasionally overjoyed to have indoor plumbing, electric lights and hot showers.
posted by frimble (staff) at 12:41 PM on March 5, 2017 [30 favorites]

I went snorkeling in Catalina with some nuns once.
posted by blnkfrnk at 1:20 PM on March 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

Looking at my comment from last night, I'm worried that I made it sound like I dropped out of high school due to sheer arrogance. It's actually a terrible story, so I won't bring the room down by going into it in depth, but the short of it is that I was also dealing with severe undiagnosed mental health issues. Looking back on everything as an adult, I'm frankly astounded that nothing about my behavior ever seemed like a red flag. If, for example, a student is routinely falling asleep in class (because I was getting two hours of sleep a night), I'd probably report that to the school counselor, right? But instead, I was told, the teacher would make fun of me while I was asleep and get the whole class laughing at me. Other teachers apparently complained about me when I wasn't there, others told me to my face (sometimes in front of the class) that I'd never succeed, that sort of thing.

The school counselor actually encouraged me to drop out, saying I'd blaze my own path (which was music to my hears, because I did also have arrogant ideas about how I was "above" high school). I had a pretty lousy ten years or so after that. But then I started to get my life together, and that's why I'm still working on my BA at my age.

That said, I still managed to teach myself a bunch of other stuff while I was failing out of high school. Occasionally I'll see something and be reminded that, oh yeah, I know some things about medieval medicine thanks to that one semester I decided to become an amateur herbalist instead of, you know, passing English. It makes me feel like I've had a really long life (which is different from feeling old), because at this point it's almost like this is all stuff someone else did. But no, that was me. Weird.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:42 PM on March 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

I absolutely love building Ikea furniture. I find it really soothing, like a big-scale jigsaw that afterwards you can put your clothes in or your teapot on.

Me too flatpack friend! I once listed that as a skill in an early OK Cupid profile, but it was never anything anyone else wanted to connect over, oddly.

And now my spouse is terrible at furniture assembly. So it goes.
posted by deludingmyself at 1:58 PM on March 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

I like to enjoy long soaking baths. Usually there's a single glass of wine that I make last the whole time. Other than that, I'm a fairly useless person.
posted by mightshould at 2:20 PM on March 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

This is a tough one. I'm so dishwater dull, especially once I factor-out the stuff I've already revealed about myself over the years. There's a big personal one, but it's a real buzzkill, so I'll skip that one.'m adopted? Catholic Charities Class of 1958. Not sure if I ever mentioned that one.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:34 PM on March 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I love the way books smell. The first thing I do when I pick up a book is smell it.
posted by SyraCarol at 2:39 PM on March 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

Oh and continuing the adoption theme: my son was adopted, his father was adopted and his father was also adopted. 3 generations of family via adoption.
posted by SyraCarol at 2:43 PM on March 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

Hmm, I think my entire medical history is catalogued on here, also a good bunch of the rest of my life... I cut my own hair 19/20 times, because I've gotten to near-total mistrust of hairdressers + am cheap. (I think it's like this - they're trained to cut, so no matter what you tell them or how many pictures you bring in, they're determined to cut. They don't really want to not cut [as much as feels good or whatever]. Am bitter atm, because I just lost two inches of precious pixie growout growth that way.

Related, I used to cut friends' hair back in the 90s (not really sure why they let me, I have no training, I just really really wanted to), and was decent at it. But you know, standards were pretty low back then.
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:01 PM on March 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

One of my friends has a video on America's Funniest Videos tonight, in case you haven't watched it in years and have nothing else to do tonight. (It's where a kid surprises her dad with a present, it's pretty good.)

I also cut my own hair mostly, for lo I am cheap and it just needs to be cut in a straight line and it curls so if I screw it up, you can't tell. Except during my final pregnancy when about 8 weeks in the morning sickness was so horrible I kept trying to go get it cut but was too sick to ever go and my ponytail holders kept snapping from the violence of the vomiting, so I grabbed my sewing scissors and hacked off the whole thing in one giant handful in a rage and YOU GUYS IT WAS BAD. And then it basically didn't grow AT ALL until month 8 because my hyperemesis was so bad and I was getting so little nutrition. It only just barely could go in a ponytail by the time I gave birth. 6 months with un-ponytail-able hair was a NIGHTMARE.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 3:13 PM on March 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

I too cut my own hair for similar reasons and have done for a long time - largely because it's cheaper and no-one understands what works on my oddly shaped head quite like I do. I'd like to think I mostly do a good job.

In a former life I may have been a DJ on pirate radio station in London.

I also have a tattoo of a Duck-Rabbit.
posted by Chairboy at 3:16 PM on March 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

I recently helped my parents clean out the house I grew up in, as they have moved to a retirement community. In the process, I was reminded of a number of things about my childhood that I had forgotten. Not sure they really count as secrets:

-- I once fell backwards out of a second story window (I was fine.)
-- I was part of a team that came in second in the state in the 4-H horse judging competition
-- My sister and I starred in a newspaper article about the fact that our family didn't have a TV
-- I'm eligible to be a member of both the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the Confederacy.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:18 PM on March 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

I unsuccessfully design board games, and design unsuccessful board games. So far.
posted by Paragon at 3:27 PM on March 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

I am a kingmaker. I'll never be the king myself, but my work and presence helps to elevate others.
posted by Rob Rockets at 3:35 PM on March 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Damn, I pretty much already gave it away.
posted by adamgreenfield at 3:39 PM on March 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

-- My sister and I starred in a newspaper article about the fact that our family didn't have a TV
Oooh, that reminds me that my brother and I once starred in a local public radio segment about the trauma of Jewish children at Christmas, which I proceeded to ruin by saying that I liked Christmas a lot because I could go to my friends' houses and play with their new toys and eat yummy cookies and look at their pretty trees. And they were like "don't you feel left out?" And I was like "no! Christmas is fun!" I don't know if I genuinely wasn't traumatized by Christmas or if I just felt like fucking with the worthy NPR lady. Probably the former.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:46 PM on March 5, 2017

From the age of 7 until graduate school, I collected Breyer horses (until I finally gave it up b/c they jacked the prices so much, and let's just say my books took priority at that point). I'm still pretty good at identifying models in production up to the early 90s, and since antiques dealers never get them right, I can sometimes be heard muttering dire imprecations about their labels under my breath. ("No, that's an Alabaster Proud Arabian Stallion, you nincompoop, not a Family Arabian Stallion.")
posted by thomas j wise at 4:00 PM on March 5, 2017 [6 favorites]

I was a performing magician as a teenager—small illusions and sleight-of-hand. Now when I see a good close-up magician I can usually figure out the method but I'm always awed by the skill.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:08 PM on March 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

I have an excellent memory for color. I once bought my mother a scarf to go with a dress she had (an odd, but pretty shade of brown) - I hadn't seen the dress in over a month, and was 2500 miles away - the match was perfect!
posted by dbmcd at 4:20 PM on March 5, 2017

Small children and animals love me. I have no idea why, but it is true.

My ex wife hates me. I have no idea why, but it is true.
posted by AugustWest at 4:23 PM on March 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Secret identities?

I'm Batman.

I'm also pretty shocked that that wasn't one of the first comments.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:37 PM on March 5, 2017

8 months or so ago, I had 2 blatantly prophetic dreams.

It's happened before, but that's nothing I know how to compare to now, it was so long ago, and besides, I was thinking it was a thing that had burned away in the flames of various illnesses anyway.

But this time I happened to describe the first dream in great detail to my partner as we were lying in bed one morning, and it came true only 3 days later. Neither of us had anything to do with or any warning about the constituent events, and those events were rare, though not unheard of; the real shock came when I looked out the window and saw an as exact as I can reckon replica of the opening image of my dream. It all unfolded along the lines of my dream over the next week or so, although my dream was highly exaggerated: the ditch was only about 10' deep, 6' wide, and 75' long, as opposed to the 25' x 50' x 200' of my dream -- and our house did not slide inexorably into the abyss, nor did anything else I was worried about come to pass.

There are Reasons I'm afraid of such construction about an order of magnitude more than almost anyone else would be, and the fact that I had dreamed about it doubled and redoubled my fear, but if I was going to have such a dream in the first place, why in the world would I have it about something that turned out to be essentially a false alarm? It was like a giant malicious prank I played on myself!

When she got home, I asked my (hard-headed, unshakably atheistic) partner whether she thought that would count as a prophetic dream, and she allowed that it absolutely would, but she played it off as just another example of the kind of thing I do. She's an atheist now, but she grew up Evangelical, got one of her Masters studying ancient Near East languages, and dropped out of a joint Near East PhD/Doctor of Theology degree at Berkeley/GTU because she refused to leave all her friends behind or go that far into debt for the sake of a job that was anything but guaranteed, so I asked her if she wanted to help me try to understand what this dream (and this kind of dream) could mean.

No, she said. She thinks there are some things that shouldn't be looked into, and that's one of them. There's a reason the Church tends to see these kinds of manifestations as demonic, she said.
posted by jamjam at 4:54 PM on March 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

I have a sockpuppet account that was historically used for questions like "My parents are doing X, that's crazy, right? Somebody tell me I'm not crazy." I've been on MeFi long enough that I've gone from angsty teenager through my twentysomethings to being a certified professional 30s adult, and I haven't used the sockpuppet for ages, but I imagine it'll come back into use when I have kids. "My kids are doing X, that's crazy, right? Somebody tell me I'm not crazy."
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 5:31 PM on March 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

I am really good at cutting things out of paper. I'm pretty sure this came from the countless hours I spent cutting out American Girl paper dolls when I was a kid. Even one set of dolls takes ages to cut out, and I had all five characters. I can also cut out really intricate paper snowflakes, although that skill stopped being useful sometime in middle school. More recently, I made some protest signs and did the lettering in cutouts. It was fun, and they turned out well. There's one in my profile pic.
posted by gueneverey at 5:32 PM on March 5, 2017

> From the age of 7 until graduate school, I collected Breyer horses

My sister and I collected them as kids, and discovered many boxes of them during the aforementioned parental house clearing. Most are in very good shape, with boxes and everything. My brother in law has taken on the task of sorting and selling them -- would love to hear any advice you have.
posted by gingerbeer at 6:02 PM on March 5, 2017

Before I had them removed, I only had 3 wisdom teeth, not 4. This fact did not prevent me from coming out from anesthesia prior to the procedure being completed however.

Do you think that was wise?


When younger, I was freakishly able to acquire huge chunks of new languages* with ease. I zipped through instructional books, memorized huge amounts of vocab, and could put up a decent conversational facade on short notice and with minor effort. As I careen past the half-century mark, it is not as fluid as it once was, but last night the youngster of the house was watching a Cold War espionage thriller and asked out of the blue, "What does KGB stand for?" I -- who never formally studied Russian and last had occasion to speak it more than twenty-five years ago (and never about the KGB) -- replied absently, "Komitet gosudarstvennoy bezopasnosti."

Also I am a decent cook and baker, a terrible juggler, and can move my eyes independently along the left-right axis.

*Except Spanish. Ai caramba.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:10 PM on March 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

When i was ten -- or maybe it was the summer before i turned ten -- i got so absorbed in a novel that i fell out of a tree. I was totally that kid who climbed a tree so i could read my book in peace.
posted by platitudipus at 6:22 PM on March 5, 2017 [9 favorites]

I take some pleasure in remembering that I was (a) personally insulted by Lou Reed, and (b) called over by Richard Lloyd because he was enjoying our conversation and he wanted to introduce me to Chris and Tina. And I pop up in a few Spoon lyrics. Fanboy confirmed.
posted by Kinbote at 6:31 PM on March 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

My kids are off school tomorrow for Casimir Pulaski Day (aka The Best Holiday) and it's going to rain all day and the planetarium's closed Monday. Fun activities in the house? I will get something out of my secret stash of rainy-day LEGO kits and science projects, but I'm still going to have a lot of time to fill!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:40 PM on March 5, 2017

I am extremely flexible and I never burn my roux.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:56 PM on March 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

When I was young I discovered I could turn my toes underneath my feet and walk on the top of my toes. I did this so much that I had large round calluses on top of my toes.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 7:22 PM on March 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

Closing a planetarium on a school holiday is scientific-education malpractice.
posted by Etrigan at 7:23 PM on March 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

Y'all realize that this is publicly searchable, and you're giving hints to the identity thieves.

I rain on parades, for their own good.
posted by dws at 7:50 PM on March 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

I'm a somewhat tall person (6'2") but sitting down, I'm a really tall person. If I sit down next to someone who's three or four inches taller than me standing up, I'll be taller when we're both sitting down. You really don't want to sit behind me in a theater. During some back treatment a few years ago, I had an MRI which revealed that I have an L6 lumbar vertebrae or one more than normal humans which explains some of the height in my torso.
posted by octothorpe at 7:51 PM on March 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

I rain on parades for their own good.

"I snorkled with nuns in Catalina" is totally my mother's maiden name! Shit, I have to call the bank!
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:59 PM on March 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

"Closing a planetarium on a school holiday is scientific-education malpractice."

I know, I'm pretty grumpy about it! They're usually open on Federal-holiday Mondays, but apparently not state-holiday-only Mondays. Last year Mini McGee was in half-day preschool and I'd pick him up and we'd go to the afternoon star show about twice a week while his big brother was at school. (Also a good pregnancy activity, you can sit still AND doze off if necessary.) This year since both boys are at school all day I've hardly been once a month!

Our other usual options are the children's museum (sure to be a MADHOUSE), the zoo (outdoors), and a variety of excellent parks, but, again, rain.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:06 PM on March 5, 2017

"I snorkled with nuns in Catalina

That sings kinda well to the tune of "Margaritaville."
posted by jonmc at 8:15 PM on March 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

In college I was talked into attending an overnight lock-in with the Baptist Student Union. I spent the entire night speaking in a terrible fake French accent, telling everyone my name was Jacqueline, and that I was an exchange student from Nice. It was in no way believeable, but some people apparently bought it.

Afterwards, I attended the BSU for a while as myself, and most people figured it out and laughed about it. But there was one girl who for nearly the entire year thought I was two separate people; I did feel a little bad when she finally confronted me about it the following spring.
posted by daisystomper at 8:16 PM on March 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

I still have all my baseball cards from when I collected them as a kid 40+ years ago. I still have over 200 cassette tapes all of which except one are live Grateful Dead recordings. I can never say the word "specifically" out loud without stumbling on it for some reason. I once smoked a j with Mr. Rogers' (Fred) son. Before lighting up, he literally asked us if we wanted to go to the Magic Kingdom. I have taken a shot of tequila with Charlie Daniels and Dave Matthews (multiple times with Dave). I was on Wonderama as a kid with Bob McAllister as the host. I have shaken the hand of 5 US Presidents (Clinton, Trump, Bush, Bush Sr, Carter). I have caught a foul ball at Wrigley Field (off the bat of Greg Maddux).
posted by AugustWest at 8:24 PM on March 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

After 37 years I think I quit smoking. There is still a pack on my desk with 13 left. I've been counting them every morning for fifteen days now. I thought it prudent to quit coffee and alcohol at the same time cause triggers. Driving is awful but unavoidable. It's fucked with my writing. I can still edit other people's stuff. I never needed much sleep anyway. It would be nice to resume my normal defecation schedule.

I still go outside for five minutes every hour or so but that's just to pull myself together enough that I don't go off on one of the five other people in this house.

I haven't said anything and nobody has noticed. My dog looks at me weird and leans on me. Nobody will give me shit if I fail cause they don't know. Shhh! It's a secret.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 8:26 PM on March 5, 2017 [35 favorites]

I've been to Antiques Roadshow. Three times.
posted by soakimbo at 8:30 PM on March 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

i am made of the angriest bees
posted by poffin boffin at 8:31 PM on March 5, 2017 [16 favorites]

"i am made of the angriest bees"

Not a secret.

posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:33 PM on March 5, 2017 [28 favorites]

My neighbor once killed a bear in Alaska, cut open the stomach, and discovered five pounds of very freshly eaten clams. The clams got rinsed off with ocean water, cooked, and re-enjoyed.
posted by aniola at 9:03 PM on March 5, 2017 [12 favorites]

..... bear .... clams ........ !!!
posted by moonmilk at 9:25 PM on March 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

I unsuccessfully design board games, and design unsuccessful board games. So far.

Me too!
posted by a snickering nuthatch at 9:37 PM on March 5, 2017

I am extremely flexible and I never burn my roux.

I'm now trying to imagine a scenario where those two abilities could simultaneously come into play and somehow save the day.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:09 PM on March 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

Oddly enough, I can't think of a secret that I haven't bared here on Metafilter.
posted by pjern at 10:17 PM on March 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

My only wisdom tooth is a single wisdom tooth that is still inside me and will probably never come out.
posted by rhizome at 10:20 PM on March 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I do quite a bit of pickling and fermentation. (And was doing it before the hipsters, goddamit)

Beer, alcoholic ginger beer, mead, kombucha, preserved lemons and various pickled vegetables...

Last night in the back of the pantry I found a jar of sauerkraut I think I made about a year ago.

Wondered: "Should I eat this?"

Ate, and it was good. And I didn't get sick.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:25 PM on March 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I played Guglielmo in an amateur production of Cosi fan Tutte in college. The woman who played Dorabella is now a voice teacher and the woman who played Fiordiligi is now a professional soprano. I was ahem, not exactly on their level. Recits are hard. We had a great time, though.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:54 AM on March 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I am really good at creating meals out of nothing; (give me a nearly empty pantry, and I'll put together a solid meal for nearly anyone) and this carries over really well into backcountry/camping cooking.

Also I'm very good at needlework; which is a direct byproduct of being super compulsive and needing to constantly do things with my hands. I'm currently on a knitting kick, but I've gone through embroidering phases before.

I'm also good at both putting in and taking out stitches, despite not being fully medically trained (wilderness first aid only).
posted by larthegreat at 5:59 AM on March 6, 2017

I am psychic! ... well, not really because no one can actually read minds like a book.. but I am close to being psychic as is realistically possible.

It's what happens when you dial empathy and intuition up to 11 in a single person. It makes you hyper aware of patterns in a person's behavior and cross reference that against all behavior in all humans. You end up being able to tell when someone isn't feeling well or is stressed out or otherwise trigger a sense that something is wrong long before they're crying or showing that emotion openly.

For example: my manager's behavior toward me has changed slightly. We were pretty friendly before, but after bringing a stressful topic to light he's been a little colder. He's taken to a different path to get to his desk that avoids my desk since that conversation, and hasn't really said hello since. He's otherwise his friendly self when I speak to him. I gather he's pissed at me on some level.
posted by INFJ at 6:35 AM on March 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

I used to have a modest talent for finding deep bugs in software. One system I worked on had an archival printer that was a legal requirement for recording all the system throughput. (This may suggest to you how long ago this was and how small the system throughput was.) The bug was that the printer would randomly stop printing. The fault was an instruction that specified the IX register instead of the intended IY register. The window of vulnerability was two instruction times. I found the fault by inspecting the entire body of code for instructions that cleared the relevant bit in any variable or register.
posted by Bruce H. at 7:20 AM on March 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

On group bicycle rides, I can hear cars coming before anybody else does. Which so far has not proven to be a transferable skill or maybe by some weird coincidences I always happen to be around people with acute hearing when I'm on subway platforms and other places where hearing oncoming vehicles is a convenient skill.
posted by ardgedee at 7:42 AM on March 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I can pronounce people's names just by reading them. This helped me out in retail because a lot of customers at the store where I worked hated being called "miss" or "ma'am" and I felt weird using their first names.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:47 AM on March 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I also have really good hearing.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:47 AM on March 6, 2017

Some people drum their fingers. I drum my toes. The knuckles on the 4 smallest toes on each foot are double-jointed, and I somehow discovered at a young age how to compress them inward and then explosively straighten the joints, so that a staccato series of pops rings out. Not soft pops, either--plainly audible from across the room. It can be done without visibly moving my feet, which gives ample opportunity to subtly screw with people trying to triangulate the weird noise.

I make the best apple and cherry pies you have ever had. I will fight you
posted by Mayor West at 8:38 AM on March 6, 2017 [5 favorites]

Eyebrows, sorry about the sick little buddy - our littlest big guy is also down with a fever, after getting over a flu last weekend. Seriously un-fun.

lazuli: I am a really good liaison between tech and/or geeky/nerdy people and non-tech and/or non-geeky-nerdy people.

I'm also the tech-speak translator, fixer of small technical issues, and our office's webpage updater. I built websites by hand back in the 1990s in high school with friends, when we accepted way too little money to spend a summer scanning photos of rugs to build a website for a rug shop. We used a brand new scanner that the owner bought on a whim, which impressed my little group of web-coding geeks. I built a computer or two in years past, and I have four towers that should be condensed down to two, but there's always some future weekend for that.

I was a college radio DJ in the same studio where Weird Al refused to follow station rules, playing records backwards by hand, and I frequently used the bathroom where he recorded My Bologna, but for non-recording purposes.

When playing "whose favorite song is this?" I stumped everyone because I chose Toxic by Britney Spears. Everyone was expecting something weird.

I like to sing diva rave tunes in falsetto, though usually when no one else is around. A college house-mate came home and heard me singing, and he had no idea who it was.

I was thrilled when I found I could almost double the number of radio pre-sets on my grandpa car (literally - it used to be my grandparents' car) by pushing two adjacent buttons at once.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:40 AM on March 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

I make the best apple and cherry pies you have ever had. I will fight you

Best fight ever! I will bring my stupid-easy super chocolaty cake, and we will enjoy great food together! Don't forget the ice cream, "to make it a little less rich" (it's a family tradition to say this when offering ice cream with another dessert).

The recipe:
1 package dark chocolate cake
4.5 (or 3.9?) oz package instant chocolate pudding
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
1.5 cups chocolate chips
4 eggs
1/2 cup oil

Combine all until smooth, put in greased bunt pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour (50+ minutes at high altitude)
posted by filthy light thief at 8:43 AM on March 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

You know how when someone says an interesting phrase or word combo and someone else laughs and says, "band name!"

My secret power is I can tell you the genre of the band. Somehow, somewhere, maybe I learned it, maybe it's innate, but I know what the funniest and most inevitable genre option is for a fake band name.

Somehow I have never made any money on this.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:48 AM on March 6, 2017 [5 favorites]

I ate dinner with Richard Lloyd, the guitarist from Television mentioned above, about once a week for maybe a year and a half when I was in high school. My high school girlfriend's dad was in the same Gurdjieff group as he was and they became friends, I was always over at her house for dinner during the week, and he'd usually be by about that often. I played guitar at the time, and was really into '77 punk and the adjacent scene, but I never really got too into it with him about those things because I figured he didn't want to bothered by some punk teenager about the one part of his career from almost three decades ago that everybody knows about. I kind of regret that now, I'm sure it would have been okay after we had already spent some time together.
posted by invitapriore at 10:03 AM on March 6, 2017 [5 favorites]

My only developed talent is I do mixed-media and digital art. Started as a hobbyist with one art class in high school and taught myself mostly by reading and watching videos. I've actually sold work.

My secret super powers are related to my sensory processing oddities. Some things don't register as having a scent. Some things have an overwhelmingly intense trigger scent. Then some things crisscross. So while lilies unfortunately smell like electrical fires, skunks smell like chocolate. Which comes in handy when your dog gets skunked, and I'm the only one that can stand to be near him for cleaning.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 10:16 AM on March 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have no wisdom teeth. They just never happened. I like to think it's because I'm more evolved. Also, I learned to eat fire with the Lesbian Avengers in 1993. So, yeah.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:39 AM on March 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

Eating Fire With the Lesbian Avengers sounds like the title of a Tom Robbins novel.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:15 AM on March 6, 2017 [5 favorites]

I'm listed near the bottom of a big family tree on display at the Alexander Herzen Museum in Moscow.

My name (first plus last, middle name not needed for this) is, as far as I can tell, 100% unique in the world due to a combination of a rare-ish first name and a highly unique last name from a family with a few dozen members at best.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:32 PM on March 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I can also translate pretty well in any direction between tech people, business people and regular people who are just annoyed by the antics of the other people. As a recognition of this skill set, a technical colleague's wife once referred to the two of us as being like a Pantomime Horse - in which analogy, you may note, her husband was the horse's arse.

I'm a decent juggler but all the juggling I ever do is complicated patterns with six or more clubs and four or more hands, and those patterns ALL LOOK THE SAME to nearly everyone, so this is not a good skill for showing off.
posted by emilyw at 12:41 PM on March 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm super good at vocal impressions.

The most mefi-notable one is my arlo-guthrie impression from our beloved metafilter thanksgiving album that I did for the first time that day. In real life I sound essentially exactly like Cortex, which is not precisely an impression given the circumstances.

I'm also a good puppeteer.

Neither of these things are things normal people enjoy, not big at parties; but to my kids it's like a goddamn super power.
posted by French Fry at 2:15 PM on March 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

carmicha - I want your superpower, of being able to focus on what's comfortable. Is it something you can describe how to do?

terretu - Have you read The Emperor of Scent, or anything about Luca Turin? Great book, and he has the heightened sense of smell you describe,. He found application for it within the perfume industry. (Professional tasters come to mind as a possible application, too.)

My own superpower is being able to fall asleep near-immediately each night. I think it dates back to six weeks I spent sleeping on a flimsy pad, in a tent with a sleeping bag but no pillow, one high school summer, six miles up a trail from the nearest road. I still remember how supernaturally comfortable bed seemed when I got back.
posted by daisyace at 3:28 PM on March 6, 2017

all the juggling I ever do is complicated patterns with six or more clubs and four or more hands…so this is not a good skill for showing off.

You buried the lede here: you have more than four hands?! I would think that just standing around would be showing off.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:23 PM on March 6, 2017 [5 favorites]

For a couple of years I had a job test driving cars. I got to drive those little Fiat 500s before they hit the streets here. They are a blast to drive, especially the Abarth (the turbo charged one). It was a hoot to go flying past much more powerful cars on the way up towards Loveland Pass in this little rollerskate of a car.
I also got to drive prototypes that were covered in camouflage and were often held together inside with duct tape. They looked like they were wearing little coats.
I loved that job.
posted by BoscosMom at 4:56 PM on March 6, 2017 [5 favorites]

I once made and served dinner for Yes. I made and served dinner for all the vegetarian big league rock bands that performed in Salt Lake City. I once hitchhiked from San Fransisco to Salt Lake City, alone. I have hiked many of the long canyons in the Grand Staircase, alone.
posted by Oyéah at 5:25 PM on March 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

Descartes is finally paying for all the space he takes up in my brain. I have spent the last half-hour convincing my kids that their bunk bed is a time machine and as soon as they go to sleep I push a button that jumps the world 8 hours forward.

Their one big question not covered by Meditations on First Philosophy was, "If there's a button in the house, why haven't we ever seen it?"

"Oh, it's a bluetooth bunkbed time machine, I use an app on my phone."

They're like, Okay, seems legit.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:27 PM on March 6, 2017 [17 favorites]

I have very strong spatial visualization skills. I perceive how mechanical things go together as "right" or "wrong" and it kind of weirds me out sometimes that not everyone has the ability.

cooker girl: "I too can read a recipe and know how it will taste, and can substitute appropriate ingredients when necessary. Better than that, though: show me a pantry and fridge full of stuff and I can make a meal on the fly. I can also do that with just a list of ingredients. It's pretty useful."

As part of the above I can do this with physical projects. EG: wanting illumination and having stacks of assorted pieces wood around I can crank out a lamp. Or a work bench from an assortment of cabinets on hand. I can see some wood object and conceptualize how to construct it; a picture is as good as a set of plans.

octothorpe: "I had an MRI which revealed that I have an L6 lumbar vertebrae or one more than normal humans which explains some of the height in my torso."

A friend of my father's was like 6'5" or so and had a 30" inseam. Now that I know it is possible I wonder if he had the same thing.
posted by Mitheral at 6:32 PM on March 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

All my real secrets need to remain secret because I'm unsure of the statute of limitations on some of them. I may invoke a sockpuppet account if I get around to it though, because it's hard to resist.

Weird skills? When I was in my 20's I could hear 20,000 hz no problem. I recall being the only person in a room of about a dozen engineers & musicians who could clearly hear the 20k test tone button on the mixing console that they used to calibrate the tape deck. Even at 54, I can still barely make out 16k despite years & years of auditory abuse.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:36 PM on March 6, 2017

carmicha - I want your superpower, of being able to focus on what's comfortable. Is it something you can describe how to do?

I think of it as sinking into that place and I have to do it with my eyes closed. It started with something visual and then I started expanding the technique. Until recently I traveled every week for work and I discovered that I could fall asleep on planes by closing my eyes and looking for the darkest spot on the backside of my eyelids, as it were. I could focus on that darkest spot until it pretty much filled my visual field; that was the sinking in, and it tended to happen in a snap, kind of like how you might suddenly see the switch between positive and negative space, or the rabbit vs the duck, or maybe the hidden image in one of those magic eye posters. Once I had sunk into the darkest spot, I could find the darkest spot within that new landscape and do it again. In this way I could fall into, or sink down into, sleep. The super power thing grew out of this technique.

The focus on the comfortable body part works sort of the same way, with the added tactic of pulling my mind back to the spot if it starts to wander back to the discomfort elsewhere. Maybe that's like how people tell you to return to breathing in meditation? If I can focus on the comfortable part, I can look deeper and make it fill my mind; it's looking closer, to understand all of the detail of why that part is comfortable and think about that part really intensely. Like it's not a foot; it's all the toes, and then all the joints in the toes, and ultimately trying to feel specifically how every square centimeter that is comfortable feels.

As this understanding fills my mind, I can get the feeling to expand, sort of by not attending to anywhere else on my body. I think I make the comfortable sense spread by making it as close as possible to the only thing I'm thinking about; it's like the more focus I can give it, the greater the proportion of my body's discomfort it displaces because it's taking up more and more of my brain, or my bandwidth. Once I've got my mind fully engaged in the comfortable feeling, I can think about other things, but I need to return to the comfortable feeling immediately if it starts to slip. I get kind of into a rhythm, like think about other stuff for nine beats and then return to comfort for the tenth beat to recharge it. That kind of prevents the comfort sense from dissipating.

I hope that helps.
posted by carmicha at 7:09 PM on March 6, 2017 [10 favorites]

I am a really really good dishwasher. Super fast and super effieicent.

Comes from handwashing the dishes as a kid ("why would I buy a dishwasher?! I've got three perfectly good dishwashers right here!" jokes my father. Har har har,) working at a barbecue joint without a dish machine, and then living in a cabin with no running water for a year.

It doesn't hurt that I also enjoy it.
posted by Grandysaur at 8:03 PM on March 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I can circular breathe, triple jump, and make a bong out of any three objects.

I can kick dropgoals with a rugby ball, shoot archery, and mesmerize all children.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:29 PM on March 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

I always forget this, but I'm a really good shot. These four targets are bullseyes that were shot from behind (i.e. the target was flipped over so the back was facing me.) They're not a fluke, I actually stopped keeping them after a while. I think the only time I used human targets was during my gun safety class. This one is mounted on red foam core; you can see it through the hole between the eyes.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:17 PM on March 6, 2017 [7 favorites]

My superpower is anyone I know decently well, I can extremely accurately guess their Myers Briggs (and often, where they are in their sibling lineup and the gender composition of their siblings). This isn't a very good party trick (no visual showmanship), but it's great for shutting up everyone who thinks MBTI is bullshit (it's at least internally consistent bullshit!)
posted by estlin at 10:15 PM on March 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

I can get a perfect score on the SAT in under 90 minutes.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:15 PM on March 6, 2017

Me too - a zero!
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:48 PM on March 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

It drives me nuts that 'years' and 'bears' doesn't rhyme.

MadamM: I can wiggle my ears independently of each other!

I was going to say 'waggle' because when I wind up doing it, it's usually in the Groucho-eyebrows style, but sure.
posted by carsonb at 11:05 AM on March 7, 2017

I can get a perfect score on the SAT in under 90 minutes.

I got a freebie SAT do-over after I'd already started college, and just for grins, I decided to not read the questions, but study the answers to see how close you can come, from patterns in each answer set and the overall test. I got an 1160.
posted by Etrigan at 11:44 AM on March 7, 2017

I do have a superpower for standardized tests. It's not at all relevant for my life now, but it served me well in the past. Thanks, GRE 800s for helping me get into grad school!
posted by gingerbeer at 11:59 AM on March 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I read books in seven different languages. (English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Catalan, Japanese)

I only started getting serious about it in 2008 or so after we moved to London because we would travel in Europe and see these amazing bookshops full of books that I could barely read or not read at all.

I got a particular thrill when we were in a bookshop in Bologna and I grabbed a copy of a book by Arto Paasilinna. He writes in Finnish but his books aren't translated into English. But they are translated into beautfiul Italian editions, which I can read! So the language learning has had this compounding effect.
posted by vacapinta at 1:41 AM on March 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

I was in a station wagon, filled with Mormons, that evaded hot pursuit.
posted by jadepearl at 4:39 AM on March 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

jadepearl: "I was in a station wagon, filled with Mormons, that evaded hot pursuit."

We need more details than that!
posted by AugustWest at 8:23 AM on March 8, 2017

I got the same SAT score as Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 5:31 PM on March 8, 2017

It's not a full-on secret if you've ever traveled on an airplane with me, but my super power is that I can fall asleep on a plane before/during takeoff (yes that means BEFORE you are allowed to recline your seat or get blankets or pillows) and remain asleep until meal/alcohol time, after which I can once again return to sleep. Which wouldn't be so impressive if I wasn't over 190cm tall and 95-100kg.
posted by some loser at 5:34 PM on March 8, 2017

To AugustWest: I don't know what the statute of limitations is for those counties but I will tell you that it involved a former Navy Seal as the driver, night time, no headlights, country dirt roads, hyper tween boys, a just demobbed Army Ranger and me, the teenage video store clerk. The driver feared his wife finding out that he and the kids were on an out of town day trip to a gaming store so instead of pulling over for speeding (so he could get home in a reasonable hour) he gunned it. The boys thought it was the best thing ever. Ranger guy thought we were going to die and wanted to make out with me before it was too late. Thankfully, my pointing out we did not even know each other kicked in his conservative Mormon ways to proper comportment. I needed to focus on important things while being chased by the popo such as how to explain to my hyper conservative mother why I was not working the night shift at the video store but instead in jail or dead with dirty underwear. In any case, I learned that angering your wife was to be avoided at all cost. At. All. Cost.
posted by jadepearl at 8:40 PM on March 8, 2017 [7 favorites]

That leaves just one burning question: barring self-incrimination, how'd you lose the heat?
posted by invitapriore at 9:03 PM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I can whistle at pitches above 15 kHz, put my fist fully inside my mouth, and crush you at foosball even of you're a duo and I'm playing one-handed.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:36 PM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I can whistle at pitches above 15 kHz, put my fist fully inside my mouth, and crush you at foosball even of you're a duo and I'm playing one-handed.

With one fist in your mouth, of course you are playing one-handed. Whistling at the same time is the impressive part.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:46 AM on March 9, 2017 [6 favorites]

and make a bong out of any three objects.
  • earbuds
  • light bulb
  • can opener
posted by jeremias at 12:03 PM on March 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Done. Got a lighter?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:09 PM on March 9, 2017 [4 favorites]

This is just making me think of the MacGyver smoker from Half Baked. "Trust me, I've made bongs with less!"
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 8:35 PM on March 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

I am not the Dread Pirate Roberts.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:58 PM on March 12, 2017

The fun fact I've been saving up for when I get on Only Connect (which will be precisely never, so I might as well tell you lot now) is that I met my wife in a scout hut halfway up an Italian alp in January while on tour with The League of Crafty Guitarists.

I would be staggered if there was any other person in the world who could say that.
posted by Grangousier at 2:01 PM on March 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Well, we'd have to know your wife's name before we could definitely say yes or no.
posted by Etrigan at 2:48 AM on March 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have the ability to pick up a random book and open it to the sex scene, if the book contains one.
posted by koucha at 6:31 PM on March 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

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